An Adventure…

Hello, everyone!

I know, I know – it’s been a little while between posts. I’ve been focusing on a massive editing job, a final push to get The Last Raven out to my editor by the end of this month… and I managed to finish yesterday!

Just in time, too, as tomorrow I’m heading off on an adventure – a trip to New York, then Toronto, then Boston, with a side trip to Salem and a drive along the New England coast. Oh, and I’m doing it all in two weeks.

Mad, right?

I’m really looking forward to it, though. Not just because I’ll get some more material for my Wednesday Wanders, but also because I’ve never been to New York, Boston, Salem or any of New England, and I love seeing new places. I plan on seeking out the partner to Cleopatra’s needle in Central Park, and have a tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island booked, just for starters. I’m also looking forward to finding out more about the sad story of the Salem ‘witches’, as well as seeing the New England coast.

I can’t wait to see Toronto again – I went to high school and university in that part of the world, and will be catching up with family and old friends, as well as being a bit of a tourist – well, it’s been a few years (decades) since I’ve been there.

And when I return, I’ll be back to it. There are more books to write and blog posts to share, plus the Bash will be less than a month away…

See you soon!

xx

 

Wednesday Wander – Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver, Canada

This is the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver, Canada. Suspended over the Capilano River, it’s a well known tourist attraction, drawing over 800,000 visitors per year.The word ‘Capilano’ derives from a First Nations term, Kia’polano, which means beautiful river. Looking down into the gorge at the tumbling waters, it’s easy to see how the place got its name. The first bridge on the site was built in 1888 by George Grant MacKay, who purchased 6,000 acres in the area and built himself a log cabin on the side of the gorge. His bridge was made of hemp rope and cedar, and lasted until his death in 1903, when it was replaced by a wire cable version.

The bridge passed through the hands of several families until the 1930s, when owner ‘Mac’ MacEachren encouraged local First Nations tribes to place their totem poles on the land. Subsequent owners expanded on this idea, and the modern cable bridge was built in the 1950’s.

Now, I’m not that great with heights. I’m especially not great with heights when the thing I’m standing on bounces and moves around, like the bridge does. I don’t care how many elephants or Mounties or whatever the bridge is supposed to be able to hold up – it just doesn’t feel right to me. However, I made it from one side to the other without (too much) incident – I won’t talk about the bit when my now-husband tried to ‘bounce’ us in the centre of the bridge – and here’s the photo taken from the other side to prove it.

When I visited, several years ago, the totem poles were there, as well as the log cabin gift shop with a few touristy photo opportunities ;-D Apparently, there is now also a system of suspended tree-top walkways, and a focus on the First Nations heritage of the area – I’ll have to go back for another visit next time I’m in Vancouver!

However, the forest remains deep and dark – I remember being amazed at the height and girth of some of the trees as we walked the trails, the river rushing white below us, just glimpsed between the branches. It was hard to believe we were only a few minutes from a busy residential area – rather, it was as though we had strayed into a piece of the old time, before Vancouver was Vancouver, when the land was wilder.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Oh Canada! Happy Birthday to you

Today is Canada Day, the yearly holiday to mark the anniversary of Canada becoming a country. This year, Canada celebrates 150 years. However, 150 years is only Canada’s official age, and does not take into account the centuries of trade and exploration before that, including the founding of the world’s oldest department store, the Hudson’s Bay Company(where both my mother and I worked, though at different stores). It also does not include the rich history of the indigenous peoples, whose culture was almost destroyed by white settlement, millennia of art and language and living with the land dismissed by our more ignorant forebears.

I lived in Canada for fourteen years. It’s where I attended high school and university, where I learned to drive, where many of life’s milestones happened to me. It’s a country I love dearly, where I still have friends, and where I met my husband. I also hold citizenship, so am proud to call myself Canadian on this day.

It is a place of wonders, of glimmering mountain peaks, vast prairies and tumbling waterfalls. Of wildlife fierce, tooth and claw, of people kind and welcoming. Its cities are bright and clean and vibrantly multicultural, and regularly place high on the list of best places to live. Canada has spawned authors and dancers and musicians, actors and directors and doctors and scientists.

It’s not a perfect country – nowhere is. But it’s pretty damn close.

And so today, on its 150th birthday, I would like to say Oh Canada! Happy Birthday to you 🙂


You can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Wednesday Wander – Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland

The glacier on top of the Jungfrau - the original Pass of Carahdras?

I saw in the news last week that a massive crack in the Larsen ice shelf has increased by six miles in the past few weeks, with the entire crack being over 100 miles long. When a crack in ice is measured in miles, the size of the ice shelf itself is almost too large to comprehend.

glacier-4We are used to the idea of ice at both our poles. Santa lives in the North, of course, surrounded by polar bears and narwhals and a floating sea of ice. And penguins inhabit the south, their tuxedoed forms clumsy on land and greased lightning in the frigid waters. Yet the ice is receding, and has been for much of the last century, the sea now too wide in places for polar bears to swim, vast icebergs breaking away in the South. Global warming, despite all the naysayers, is a reality, and the melting of the icecaps is just one part of a bigger picture that includes rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

glacier-3Glaciers, too, are receding. Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth showed some sobering before and after images of places where the ice once flowed. I’ve snowboarded across a glacier, at the top of Blackcomb Mountain in BC. Canada. I’ve also been inside one, in Switzerland. The Aletsch Glacier is the largest glacier in the Swiss Alps, running for about 23 km, and it’s here that I’m heading for this week’s Wednesday Wander

glacier-2The Jungfraujoch, at the top of the Jungfrau mountain in Switzerland, is a popular destination for visitors. There are several activities up there, as well as spectacular views of the glacier (via, as I remember it, a small metal balcony bolted to the side of the building – still haunts my nightmares). There is also the Eispalast, one of the highest altitude ice palaces in the world. Carved into the side of the glacier, it has a network of rooms filled with sculptures carved from ice. It’s bitterly cold inside, as you can imagine, the ice a luminous blue. Some of the sculptures have had colour added, while others are simply as they were carved.

glacier-1A funicular railway takes you to and from the top of the mountain, and on the way down we chose to alight before the bottom, walking the last section so as to take in the glorious views. I’ve written about this landscape before, as this is where Tolkien was wandering when he was inspired to write Lord of The Rings. Looking at the otherworldly beauty of the valley, I can see why.

The valley seen from the lower slopes of the Jungfrau

Our world is shaped from ice and fire, and I feel fortunate to have been close to both extremes, from volcanoes in Tenerife and Hawaii to glaciers in Canada and Switzerland. It is usually at the extreme of the scale that change first becomes apparent, so the warnings written in both fire and ice perhaps should be heeded. While we like to think we have some control over nature, in reality we are part of it and we ignore that at our peril.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next week!

Note: the views on climate change expressed here are my own. I realise there may be readers who see things differently – if so, let us agree to, respectfully, disagree. Thanks.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

 

 

Snow Day

img_4919It snowed here on Friday. And Saturday too. Proper snow, like fat feathers falling from the sky, swirling around and settling on trees and pavements and rooftops. The schools didn’t close and life continued pretty much as usual, but it snowed.

I love snow. If you’ve ever watched the Gilmore Girls, you’ll know that Lorelei Gilmore can sense when the first snow is coming. She smiles in anticipation, hugging herself as she says ‘I can smell snow,’ like it’s some wonderful gift she’s about to be given. I feel the same way about it, though I don’t quite have the same snow sense as she does. Snow is soft and, when it falls, if the wind is just right, you can stand there and watch it float and dance around you like specks of magic. I don’t feel the same way about rain at all. You can’t make rain angels.

img_1020I lived in Ontario for many years and it only takes stepping on a frozen puddle and hearing it crack to take me back to the first winter we lived there, when the temperature dropped well below zero and snow was piled so high at the end of the driveway we dug into it and made a snow cave. I remember the novelty of heavy boots and all-in-one snowsuits, of ice skating on a frozen pond, tobogganing at night and putting on my cross country skis to ski around my neighbourhood. I remember sitting in the kitchen with my brother listening to the radio, waiting to hear whether school was closed and we had a snow day. I also remember being at work one day and coming out to find my car almost completely buried in snow, and another day where I’d left the window slightly open and ended up with a snowdrift on the back seat.

img_4910I met my husband at the snow. Both of us working at a ski resort, the violet lit slopes and winter cold a perfect backdrop to romance. And so when the clouds gather and the first flakes start to fall I’m taken back. To a time as a child when snow seemed to last forever, lit with fairy lights. To a time when my life changed in wonderful ways. Oh, I know snow gets dirty and slushy and tedious after a while, but there is wonder in the first fresh fall, the glitter of light and the unique beauty in each and every snowflake.

I hope it snows again soon.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Wednesday Wander – If You Could Be Anywhere…

if-you-could-be-anywhereIt’s Wednesday, so time for my usual Wander, and it’s also day twenty-eight of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. Today’s prompt is: If.

Initially, I considered the Rudyard Kipling poem If, and doing a Wander related to that. But Kipling was so well-travelled I couldn’t really settle on one place, and unfortunately I’ve not yet been to India, the place with which he is most often associated. Then I considered – if I could be anywhere, where would I be?

This was a tough question to answer. At the moment, I’m pretty happy where I am. And if I did go anywhere it would be somewhere I’ve not visited before, so I couldn’t post about it anyway. I decided to look back through my posts for inspiration, and realised I’ve taken 54 Wednesday Wanders so far – just over a year’s worth of posts! So, as it’s the last Wander of 2016, I decided to look back at the top ten most popular posts, based upon the number of likes, and leave the answer up to you. If you could be anywhere, where would you be?

Starting with the tenth most popular, here is the list of favourites for the year:

The Lion Monument, Lucerne, Switzerland

The Twelve Apostles, Australia

Surfers Paradise, Australia

Coventry Cathedral, Coventry, England

El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Manyana Beach, Australia

Stonehenge, England

Paris, France

Ancient Rome, Italy

And the number one post was:

Niagara Falls, Canada

Thanks for coming along with me on my Wednesday Wanders – I’ve seen a bit of the world but there’s still a lot for me to see, so I’ll keep posting as long as I have places to share

See you next year! xx


If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Wednesday Wander – Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls 1When I lived in Ontario, I used to live not too far from Niagara Falls. Close enough that I remember going on a couple of dates there during high school, close enough that it was where we took all our visitors whenever they came to stay.

It was no different when I went back to Canada for a visit with my now-husband. We had a few days in my old hometown before heading to Vancouver, so I took him (and his brother) to see the Falls.

Niagara Falls 2Because they are pretty impressive. Despite all the tackiness that has sprung up around them, the Horseshoe Falls are truly a wonder of nature. We were there in winter, as you can see, and the ice was thick on the river, hanging in icicles from the viewing area below. We also went in the tunnels behind the Falls. I still pause when I think about it. You see, the tunnels simply open out to the Falls. Literally, the water is falling at the open end of the tunnel. And the only thing there (or at least at the time we went) to stop you or anyone from just stepping out, is a wooden bar fixed about half way along the tunnel, waist height from the floor. So, not really a deterrent at all. I think I screamed when I saw it, the noise and proximity quite overwhelming.

And that’s the other thing about the Falls. They are very open. You can drive a little way along the Parkway and just… step into the river. Literally park, walk a few metres, and step in. No wonder so many people have tried the barrel stunt over the years. And the railing at the edge of the Falls itself is, as you can see, about waist height.

This is quite an old photo, looking back along the gorge to the Peace Bridge and the American Falls. There are a lot more buildings there now.
This is quite an old photo, looking back along the gorge to the Peace Bridge and the American Falls. There are a lot more buildings there nowadays.

And of course this is how it should be. This is nature, unfettered. To fence it and put up high nets and keep people away from it would destroy the experience. It’s up to us to be careful. To not lean over the railing or go beyond the wooden bar in the tunnels. And it’s part of the thrill, too.

Thank you for coming along on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time 🙂